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Summer of Social Connection

With the summer season upon us, many people look forward capitalizing on the weather and socializing more frequently. However, new data is telling us that

Canadians are socially isolated.

As we continue to emerge from the worst of the global pandemic, many people are finding their social lives to be lackluster.

There are multiple reasons for this. Primary amongst them was that the pandemic required people to physically isolate. While technology did offer other means to stay connected, it couldn’t replicate the experience of physically being with other people. Additionally, as the pandemic wore on, a fatigue of screen time set in.

So where do we go from here?

Let's start by putting ourselves in social situations. Depending on your comfort level:

  • attend a local sporting or artistic event

  • volunteer for a cause close to your heart

  • go to a bar with the goal of sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender or fellow patrons

  • join a hiking group or a book club

  • sit in a coffee shop and people watch after exchanging pleasantries with the barista

  • Try MeetUp or Bumble BFF

Social engagement requires a physical presence.

The goal isn't to make instant friends. Instead, build comfort (both physical & emotional) engaging with people. We are seeking connection. Friendship might be a nice byproduct of connection but that requires time and safety.

How do we build comfort and safety? By being in the presence of other people without experiencing negative consequences.

We can also develop comfort with other people is by engaging in small talk.

I believe that as Canadians we excel at small talk.

Nice day eh? How about them Leafs/Jays/Raptors? Any plans for your weekend?

Small talk allows us to build connection with minimal risk.

  • for newcomers to Canada, it might help them practice their English or French.

  • small talk in an elevator can turn neighbours into friends.

  • exchanging pleasantries at work can build trust between colleagues and foster collaboration.

Social isolation poses significant risks to our health. This summer, I encourage you to be intentional and create (or reestablish) social connections.

Remember, social connection doesn't have to be large or loud. Small steps can lead to meaningful connection.

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